by Kenneth Penkowski
While governments continue to struggle to provide even the simplest services people have come to expect, Google Fiber shows how the free market is making our lives amazing.
Google is a private company risking investor capital to bring valuable products and services to new customers. If Google's brilliance running its other business divisions is any indication, the company will build a long-term sustainable product that delivers value to customers.
Contrast this to the Raleigh municipal Wi-Fi boondoggle, which forces tax victims to pay for a service that most will never use.
Even when I'm in the very few areas covered, I use my cellular data connection because it's better. I use this plan which I voluntarily purchase at my expense from a private company instead of leeching off the mostly useless "free" and "unlimited" government solution.
Google Fiber will accelerate our existing competitive environment for broadband services. This competition will undoubtedly drive up quality and drive down costs, as it does in every area of technology. AT&T is racing to roll out its "last-mile" fiber service. We would already have access to their service had it not been for local and federal regulations standing between it and the customers it would benefit.
Early adopters pay a premium for the most advanced service, providing the revenue companies need to recoup development costs. Shortly thereafter, price-sensitive consumers gain access to better products as the marginal cost of adding one more customer allows prices to drop.
Facebook is re-engineering its low-bandwidth service so the resource poor areas which generally have access only via mobile phones can use it. Google and other companies are racing to provide Internet access using helium balloons and solar power so that less populated rural areas, where cable line is expensive, can have high-speed Internet.
The free market is working. No government required.
Raleigh's promise to streamline government processes may sound like cronyism. But it's refreshing to hear politicians honestly admit government regulation stands in the way of providing the goods and services residents desire. We should commend the city for recognizing that Raleigh citizens would benefit from less regulation and urge the city to make this an across-the-board model.
Fiber runs are the highways of the 21st century, and private companies – not government – are creating these highways.
In the long term, we need the next generation of Googles, Apples, Exxons, food trucks, landscaping services and furnace filter-delivery companies to provide the goods and services that drive economic growth and make our lives better.
In the short term, we should recognize that politicians are doing the right thing by stepping aside and allowing these remarkable possibilities to flourish. Their next step should be removing these barriers permanently for everyone.
Kenneth Penkowski, a Raleigh digital communications consultant, is an at-large member of the North Carolina Libertarian Party executive committee.